Top Victorian trainer David Hayes is confident the hefty top-weight and wide barrier draw allocated to Eagle Falls for Sunday’s The Goodwood hasn’t ruled his galloper out of contention for Adelaide’s pinnacle sprint showdown.
There were 21 acceptors for the capacity 20-starter field for this year’s $350,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on Sunday, Hussonet five-year-old Eagle Falls the heaviest weighted of the contenders with 58kg.
Winner of the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield in February, Eagle Falls came oh so close to busting the $1 million mark in career earnings now having won over $997,883 in stakes from his 22 starts.
Just a top 10 finish in The Goodwood will see Eagle Falls become a million dollar earner with the $3,500 paid for the sixth – 10th placegetters enough to boost him over, never mind the $222,500 on offer to the winner.
Sunday will be the first Adelaide start for the gelding and this combined with their wide barrier 19 draw and disappointing last start ninth when over 12 lengths away from Black Caviar in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) has seen Eagle Falls installed as a $21 roughie in The Goodwood odds.
“It’s a really good Goodwood – one of the best I’ve seen,” Hayes said.
Indeed, despite the withdrawal of ace nominee Hay List from the race it is still a quality line-up with the likes of Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily, Yallambee Classic champion Shrapnel and Golden Rose victor Toorak Toff among the acceptors.
“We’ve had to scratch the past two times with him in Sydney due to the wet tracks but he’s really well,” Hayes continued.
“The draw’s not ideal, but he’ll just have to get on the back on a good one.”
As with a number of the other The Goodwood hopeful’s connections, Hayes tips $5.50 favourite Crystal Lily as the runner to beat on Sunday despite the Stratum filly not having won since her victory in the juvenile classic over 12 months ago.
“She should be favourite although she’s had a pretty tough time of it chasing behind the champion (Black Caviar),” Hayes said of Crystal Lily.
“As long as those runs didn’t flatten her she’ll be a major factor.”
Crystal Lily has faced off against the world’s best thoroughbred, the Peter Moody-trained Black Caviar in all four of her runs this preparation.
Hayes is as impressed as anyone with the supremacy and ability of the freakish Black Caviar.
“I’ve never seen any horse as dominant at its distance as Black Caviar,” he said.
“It’s as simple as that.”
A win in The Goodwood would be the ultimate payoff after years of hard work for Hayes who has never trained a Goodwood winner.
His father Colin did with Romantic Son back in 1971 when Hayes was just nine years old.
Hayes also lines up Precious Lorraine in Sunday’s other feature race, the $350,000 Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) for three-year-olds, a race his father enjoyed a quartet of wins in throughout his training career.
Encosta De Lago filly Precious Lorraine enjoyed a smart win in the Group 3 SA Fillies Classic (2400m) at the Morphettville track on April 9 before her last start failure when 10th to Right Of Refusal in the Listed VRC St Leger (2800m) on a bog track at Flemington.
“Forget she went around that day,” Hayes said of Precious Lorraine’s run in the St Leger.
The VRC St Leger win has seen the Nigel Blackiston-trained Right Of Refusal hit the top of the Derby odds at $3.80 while Precious Lorraine sits as a $17 chance.
“If we get a dry track I think she can be in the finish,” Hayes said.
“She races well at Morphettville, being a dual stakes winner there, and the mile-and-half is exactly what she needs.”